Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

It Is Time for iPadOS to Have Its Mac OS X Moment

Daryl Baxter, TechRadar (so you are aware, the TechRadar website is among the worst I have used recently, as it loads some WebP images several times every second in the background; after having it open for just a few minutes, this page was already 30 MB. Just keep that in mind as you open this quite good column within a trash heap of a website):

Once Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1998, it was decided to use most of the codebase from the company that Apple had bought to bring him and his team back in – NeXT.

Rhapsody was the codename for what would become Mac OS X, which was made available as a public beta in 2000.

There was a dock, an easier method of searching for your apps, a new UI, and true multitasking support.

Sound familiar?

I like this comparison.1

Even though iOS was based off the full-featured Mac OS X, Apple still rebuilt much of its functionality in a way that was true and specific to the iPhone and, then, the iPad. Multitasking, for example, took years to come to iOS, only to arrive in limited but since-expanded capacity. It still does not replicate the multitasking experience of MacOS. That can be okay on an iPhone where every app is a full-screen app and everything feels more like a single-purpose widget, but the iPad is a different product that needs a different approach.

I would love to see what a Mac OS X moment looks like for the iPad. It could feel familiar while being radically rethought as an iPad-first operating system. Something that sheds the baggage of both the desktop operating system paradigm and its smartphone roots. I fear that is too ambitious for a platform now used by tens (or hundreds) of millions of people.


  1. This is an absurdly nitpicky point, but this is where I pick nits:

    We currently have an engine of a Reliant Robin inside a Ferrari – the iPad is capable of so much, but the operating system hinders the whole product line.

    This is, if anything, completely backwards. The iPad is a masterpiece of engineering that simply is not capable of being harnessed. If you don’t understand analogies, just don’t use them. ↩︎